Portales High senior Kaleigh Johns said it took endurance, energy and passion to deliver a great performance at the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Nationals competition, a performance that earned them second place in their division.
Coach Amy Lovett says she couldn't have been more proud of her 24 girls who help put Portales on the map, about two weeks ago at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
"Feb. 9, a day that I'll put down as one of the best days of my life," Lovett said. "It was just a neat, once in a lifetime experience."
The Portales High School cheerleaders practice a routine Thursday in preparation for their next competition, the New Mexico state championships next month. The team took second place in their division Feburary 9 at the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Nationals competition
She says her team has came a long way in two years and a win such as this means everything to them and the community they represent.
For four cheerleaders, the experience felt like a Cinderella story because they never expected that their team would be cheering in a famed stadium.
Here's what those girls had to say about their experience:
- Her teammates agree that if this trip meant more to anyone on the team, it would be freshman Anja Tech.
Tech is a military brat from North Carolina but says she has moved a lot since coming to Portales. The one thing that has been consistent her life is her athletics, whether it be in the form of dance, gymnastics or cheerleading.
Her dream is to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
"I started crying when I saw them," Tech said about the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. "I met my favorite one, Courtney Cook. They need to remember who I am, I watch their show faithfully."
Tech plans to try out for the team when she turns 19, but also hopes to study medicine because she wants to work with cancer patients.
She may not be in Portales long because she says her family may move to Florida soon, but she said she'll never forget this team.
"I love knowing that I have a friend in any of them," Tech said. "Just knowing how supportive they are."
- Johns plans to attend Eastern New Mexico University with the goal of having a career in the medical field. She also plays flute in the PHS band, but cheerleading has been that one activity she's been a part of that's rounded out her life.
The Portales High School Cheerleaders pose with their trophy and a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
"It's just an activity I love to do," Johns said. "We're all a big family. We all have to work together to achieve something."
Johns said attending the national competition in Dallas gave her an opportunity to see their skill level against much larger schools. She also said she felt grateful to have the opportunity to go because teams have to be invited to compete.
- Alex Sherman, a junior originally from Florida, says she's no rookie to large competitions. Sherman says she's been cheerleading since she was 5 and has been in Portales since her freshman year. Sherman is part of a military family.
"I was on an all-star team in Florida," Sherman said. "We're (PHS) at that level now."
Although Sherman sees the Dallas competition as a big win, she continues to keep focus on the next win and has her team's goals in mind.
"This year we have a chance at winning state," Sherman said about next month's competition. "We've worked for it all year."
Sherman says her most memorable moment of the trip was uploading a video to YouTube of the cheerleaders performing a song she wrote about cheerleading.
- Sophomore Ashlynn Idsinga of Portales is known for getting knocked around during practice, but she's also known for getting back up after each injury.
"I get hurt a lot," Idsinga joked. "My favorite trick to do is tumbling."
With a lot of family in the area, she says she enjoys cheering at games and inspiring the crowds to show school spirit.
Idsinga wants to study marine biology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, but says cheerleading has been a fun part of her life.
"This year we have got our fans a lot more involved and a lot more spirited," Idsinga said. "They get crazy at the games."